Matthew R. Perry

Archive for December, 2007|Monthly archive page

Posts on Expositionalogistix Preaching Blog

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2007 at 10:32 pm

As you know, I have begun a preaching blog called Expositionalogistix.  Until that blog gets its own niche on the web, I will be posting links to the posts I’ve made during the week.  So, without any further delay …

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12 Days of Christmas (Straight No Chaser)

In Christmas, Music on December 27, 2007 at 2:54 pm


Amazing.

When Christ Makes Himself Known — a Sermon on Luke 2:15-20

In Christmas, Sermons on December 27, 2007 at 11:48 am

(You may listen in full to this sermon which was preached on Sunday, December 23, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.)

Given the time of year, we are inundated with lists. Men of the Year, Women of the Year, Comebacks of the Year, etc. One of the most intriguing lists to come out is the quotes of the year. With issue with Don Imus and his racial slur, the proliferation of quotes from the presidential debates, and really just the din of commentary from 24-hour news networks — there was a lot to choose from. The winner? The University of Florida student named Andrew Meyer who tried to speak up during an address of a U.S. Senator. The security guards then tazed him. His quote, “Don’t taze me, bro!” That small quote shot all over the place like crazy. Fred Shapiro noted, “Meyer’s quote was a symbol of pop culture success. Within two days it was one of the most popular phrases on Google and one of the most viewed videos. It also showed up on ringtones and T-shirts.”

We tend to take for granted how fast information is spread. And we take for granted the ones who spread it. With the Internet, with CNN and FoxNews, with even the antiquated inventions such as the radio and telephone, information passes quickly and in many different ways. And even with the information that passes, before we look to see whether we believe the information, we look to the credibility of the ones passing the information along right?

So when we read through this and see exactly who these first ‘good news tellers’ (also known as missionaries) were, we would be skeptical if we lived during that time, not knowing how the story would end. Yet, when Christ makes himself known, he does so in ways that no one else can conceive of, and in ways that no one else could get the glory. By coming in such humble means through a poor humble young virgin and by using such outcasts on the outskirts of the city — and even so we’re still celebrating this holiday (holy day) 2,000 years later. Why? It is because of one of two reasons: either we are a group of unintellectual rubes who hang on to fairy tales as a crutch, or there is enough substance and significance that we can hang on to this great story and event with every confidence in the world.


1. When Christ makes Himself known, we must go and see (Luke 2:15-16)!

When the shepherds heard the Word of the Lord through the angels, how did they respond? Did they go and pray about what they had heard to see what they should do next? Did they go and talk to the scholars and the priests to make sure they had it right?

They could well have reacted like Scrooge did in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol when the ghost of Jacob Marley visited Scrooge in his home. Scrooge, a very cynical and practical man, found himself (as one would imagine) very surprised. After Scrooge asked Marley to sit in a chair (which he did), Marley replied, “You don’t believe in me.” “I don’t,” said Scrooge.

“What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses? … Why do you doubt your senses?”

Scrooge replied, “Because a little thing affects them. A slight order of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!” If you know this story, you realize that Marley was real — but Scrooge needed double-convincing that this supernatural event actually took place!

In our culture, we are very much in danger of these things. Some of the issues that come up are very spiritual (we must pray about this! We must go and confirm this with the pastors and scholars) or very secular (Bah! Humbug on anything supernatural — there must be some other explanation!). Each of us has different lenses through which we look at the world — and that tends to color our reactions.

Yet these shepherds — these outcasts of society; these smelly, dirty, unkempt, earthy shepherds — were told from the angelic choir itself about an event which happened over on the outskirts of Bethlehem. What was their reaction?

Luke 2:15-16 again says,

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.”

Their reaction may seem very unspiritual to us — they didn’t think, they didn’t pray, they didn’t ponder — they just reacted with excitement. Much like we would react when a child is born into our family, or when someone is engaged, or … as is the case with some folks at school … when they find out they passed a test and are graduating.

Only more so. These shepherds likely did not receive a kind word from anyone. And yet, they received a good word — Good News — not just from anyone on earth, but from God Himself who made the greatest event ever known first to them. They couldn’t wait.

2. When Christ makes Himself known, we must go and tell (Luke 2:17-18)!

In Luke 2:17-18, says, “And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.”

We tend to focus a lot on how surprised the shepherds were, and for good reasons. When the angels arrived on the scene, the shepherds were “very afraid.” Yet, do you think that Mary and Joseph were afraid when the shepherds showed up hastily on the scene. Mothers are very protective of their newborns. I’m sure they had already been through quite a bit just to get to this particular point. This company showing up unexpectedly, I’m sure, was met with some bit of concern.

So naturally, the shepherds felt a duel need to explain themselves. First, to possibly disarm (emotionally, that is) a protective father from harming his son. Yet, they had to speak these things not simply for their protection but also because of their desire to see what the angels were speaking of!

Over the next few weeks, there were be football a-plenty. As you watch the games, you will notice certain groups of people in the game. You will see the players, you will see the spectators, and you will see the commentators. There is a game taking place on the field. Tackles are made, blocks are executed, passes are thrown, and touchdowns and field goals are scored. The crowd in the stadium and at home are there watching what is going on — either cheering or booing what happened. Yet the commentators are there explaining each play, each block, each move executed. Their job is not simply to watch, but to tell what is going on!

What about us? Are we spectators or commentators? And if we comment, is it only when the company is safe, or are we like the disciples when they went before the judge, accused of stirring up the crowd with the message of Jesus. When they were ordered to speak no longer about him, Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20, ESV). Have you asked God to give you the courage to go and tell? You’ve seen in part what he’s accomplished. Don’t be a spectator simply watching the action, tell us all about it!


3. When Christ makes Himself known, we must go and ponder (Luke 2:18-19)!

In Luke 2:18-19, we read, “And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. [19] But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

When we look at Mary, we see what a discerning and meditative heart she had in soaking in all that transpired in her and before her. When the angel first approached her with a greeting, her first reaction was that “she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:29). Later, when the 12-year-old Jesus stayed behind at the Temple to talk to the religious leaders, and his inquiring parents asked him what he was doing, with him responding how he must be about his father’s business — Luke tells us that “his mother treasure up all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).

Mary takes time for this as well when the shepherds arrive. While everyone else was wondering, Mary was treasuring these things and pondering them in her heart. Is there a difference between wondering and pondering? To wonder about something means “a cause of astonishment or admiration”. To ponder means to weigh in the mind, to think about and reflect on a matter. While the differences may seem slight, they are there nonetheless.

We tend to like admiring things based on simple external things. Many may attend church based on external things — great music, pleasing aesthetics in the architecture, a warm and welcoming atmosphere, even to the point of a pleasant temperature. Even with preaching, many times it doesn’t matter what’s said, just so long as what is said is brief, the speaker is well-dressed and in the ballpark of articulate.

There is great value however in looking deeper, pondering, treasuring up all the things we see. You see, Mary didn’t simply admire what was happening. The danger would be for her to simply admire what was happening then forget when the shepherds left. Mary treasured these things up on the shelves of her heart for her to pull down and recall and remember when necessary. And would they ever be necessary as she would watch her Son die. She would have never been able to process such a despicable acts (at least as far as the world was concerned) unless she took time to ponder the lessons God taught her in life.

When we think of meditating, it is not like that of the monks centuries ago who sought to remove themselves from life — but is rooted in life. Paul notes in Philippians 4:8-9:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. [9] What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Christmas is an exciting and special time, regardless of your background. The truth is, many people are more apt to include certain religious celebrations in their Christmas plans.


4. When Christ makes Himself known, we must go and glory (Luke 2:20)!

While Mary was pondering and treasuring all that God was accomplishing before her, what did the shepherds do? Luke 2:20 says, “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

We will not stay in this place for very much longer today. In fact, we live in a culture where the average church service lasts about an hour. Whereas the last point dealt with much on how we deal with what’s going on here, this last issue deals with what we will do when we leave.

The shepherds returned back to where they were, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. To glorify means to see and know the attributes of God and to speak about them.

But the shepherds “returned back.” Where did they return? They went back home. Home. Home is a place where many love, but it’s also a place where many struggle. You see, I have been a youth pastor long enough, and was a youth long enough, and have been on enough missions trips to realize the euphoria and the spiritual-centeredness on these trips, and conferences, and events. The hardest part of the trip was not going — it would be coming back home. Back to the trappings of the culture, back to the temptations and distractions that would take me away from God, back to the people who cannot relate to what God may have done — and even feel the need to bring us “back down to reality.”

The shepherds had to return home. While we do not know what happened to them after they returned home — but we know they returned the right way. They had seen it, they remembered what was told to them.

Conclusion

M.R. DeHaan, founder and longtime host of the Radio Bible Class wrote a poem which touches at the heart of this time of year:

What’s all this hectic rush and worry?
Where go these crowds who run and curry?
Why all the lights — the Christmas trees?
The jolly “fat man,” tell me please!

Why, don’t you know? This is the day
For parties and for fun and play;
Why this is Christmas!

So this is Christmas, do you say?
But where is Christ this Christmas day?
Has He been lost among the throng?
His voice drowned out by empty song?

No. He’s not here — you’ll find Him where
Some humble soul now kneels in prayer,
Who knows the Christ of Christmas.

But see the many aimless thousands
Who gather on this Christmas Day,
Whose hearts have never yet been opened,
Or said to Him, “Come in to stay.”

In countless homes the candles burning,
In countless hearts expectant yearning
For gifts and presents, food and fun,
And laughter till the day is done.

But not a tear of grief or sorrow
For Him so poor He had to borrow
A crib, a colt, a boat, a bed
Where He could lay His weary head.

I’m tired of all this empty celebration,
Of feasting, drinking, recreation;
I’ll go instead to Calvary.

And there I’ll kneel with those who know
The meaning of that manger low,
And find the Christ — this Christmas.

I leap by faith across the years
To that great day when He appears
The second time, to rule and reign,
To end all sorrow, death, and pain.

In endless bliss we then shall dwell
With Him who saved our souls from hell,
And worship Christ — not Christmas!

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The Eight Excellencies of Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3)

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2007 at 6:36 pm

Nativity scenes pepper the landscape of our country.  For many, this is the only time any of us focus on the Christ — and because we are so visually stimulated, Christ remains a weak infant.  But this is an excellent time to look and see who Jesus is from eternity’s perspective.

  1. God speaks through ultimately and fully through Christ (Micah 5:1-4; John 4:25).
  2. Christ is the heir of all things (Psalm 2:7-8; Hebrews 2:5-9).
  3. Christ is an agent of creation (Genesis 1:27-28; Colossians 1:15-17).
  4. Christ is the radiance of God’s glory (John 1:18; John 8:12; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
  5. Christ is the exact imprint of his nature (Colossians 1:15; Colossians 2:9).
  6. Christ upholds all by His Word (Jude 24-25).
  7. Christ makes purification for sins (Hebrews 9:12-14; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
  8. Christ completed everything necessary (Hebrews 10:12; Ephesians 2:4-6).

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Ron Paul’s Faith in Jesus Christ — a Good Piece

In Uncategorized on December 22, 2007 at 12:21 am

The following statement by Ron Paul was published July 21st in The Covenant News (HT: Lawn Gospel):

We live in times of great uncertainty when men of faith must stand up for our values and our traditions lest they be washed away in a sea of fear and relativism. As you likely know, I am running for President of the United States, and I am asking for your support.

I have never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena. In fact, the pandering that typically occurs in the election season I find to be distasteful. But for those who have asked, I freely confess that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, and that I seek His guidance in all that I do. I know, as you do, that our freedoms come not from man, but from God. My record of public service reflects my reverence for the Natural Rights with which we have been endowed by a loving Creator.

I have worked tirelessly to defend and restore those rights for all Americans, born and unborn alike. The right of an innocent, unborn child to life is at the heart of the American ideal of liberty. My professional and legislative record demonstrates my strong commitment to this pro-life principle.

In 40 years of medical practice, I never once considered performing an abortion, nor did I ever find abortion necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. In Congress, I have authored legislation that seeks to define life as beginning at conception, H.R. 1094. I am also the prime sponsor of H.R. 300, which would negate the effect of Roe v Wade by removing the ability of federal courts to interfere with state legislation to protect life. This is a practical, direct approach to ending federal court tyranny which threatens our constitutional republic and has caused the deaths of 45 million of the unborn. I have also authored H.R. 1095, which prevents federal funds to be used for so-called “population control.” Many talk about being pro-life. I have taken and will continue to advocate direct action to restore protection for the unborn.

I have also acted to protect the lives of Americans by my adherence to the doctrine of “just war.” This doctrine, as articulated by Augustine, suggested that war must only be waged as a last resort— for a discernible moral and public good, with the right intentions, vetted through established legal authorities (a constitutionally required declaration of the Congress), and with a likely probability of success.

It has been and remains my firm belief that the current United Nations-mandated, no-win police action in Iraq fails to meet the high moral threshold required to wage just war. That is why I have offered moral and practical opposition to the invasion, occupation and social engineering police exercise now underway in Iraq. It is my belief, borne out by five years of abject failure and tens of thousands of lost lives, that the Iraq operation has been a dangerous diversion from the rightful and appropriate focus of our efforts to bring to justice to the jihadists that have attacked us and seek still to undermine our nation, our values, and our way of life.

I opposed giving the president power to wage unlimited and unchecked aggression, However, I did vote to support the use of force in Afghanistan. I also authored H.R. 3076, the September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001. A letter of marque and reprisal is a constitutional tool specifically designed to give the president the authority to respond with appropriate force to those non-state actors who wage aggression against the United States while limiting his authority to only those responsible for the atrocities of that day. Such a limited authorization is consistent with the doctrine of just war and the practical aim of keeping Americans safe while minimizing the costs in blood and treasure of waging such an operation.

On September 17, 2001, I stated on the house floor that “…striking out at six or eight or even ten different countries could well expand this war of which we wanted no part. Without defining the enemy there is no way to know our precise goal or to know when the war is over. Inadvertently more casual acceptance of civilian deaths as part of this war I’m certain will prolong the agony and increase the chances of even more American casualties. We must guard against this if at all possible.” I’m sorry to say that history has proven this to be true.

I am running for president to restore the rule of law and to stand up for our divinely inspired Constitution. I have never voted for legislation that is not specifically authorized by the Constitution. As president, I will never sign a piece of legislation, nor use the power of the executive, in a manner inconsistent with the limitations that the founders envisioned.

Many have given up on America as an exemplar for the world, as a model of freedom, self-government, and self-control. I have not. There is hope for America. I ask you to join me, and to be a part of it.

Sincerely,

Ron Paul

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Ron Paul’s Faith in Jesus Christ — a Good Piece

In Uncategorized on December 22, 2007 at 12:21 am

The following statement by Ron Paul was published July 21st in The Covenant News (HT: Lawn Gospel):

We live in times of great uncertainty when men of faith must stand up for our values and our traditions lest they be washed away in a sea of fear and relativism. As you likely know, I am running for President of the United States, and I am asking for your support.

I have never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena. In fact, the pandering that typically occurs in the election season I find to be distasteful. But for those who have asked, I freely confess that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, and that I seek His guidance in all that I do. I know, as you do, that our freedoms come not from man, but from God. My record of public service reflects my reverence for the Natural Rights with which we have been endowed by a loving Creator.

I have worked tirelessly to defend and restore those rights for all Americans, born and unborn alike. The right of an innocent, unborn child to life is at the heart of the American ideal of liberty. My professional and legislative record demonstrates my strong commitment to this pro-life principle.

In 40 years of medical practice, I never once considered performing an abortion, nor did I ever find abortion necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. In Congress, I have authored legislation that seeks to define life as beginning at conception, H.R. 1094. I am also the prime sponsor of H.R. 300, which would negate the effect of Roe v Wade by removing the ability of federal courts to interfere with state legislation to protect life. This is a practical, direct approach to ending federal court tyranny which threatens our constitutional republic and has caused the deaths of 45 million of the unborn. I have also authored H.R. 1095, which prevents federal funds to be used for so-called “population control.” Many talk about being pro-life. I have taken and will continue to advocate direct action to restore protection for the unborn.

I have also acted to protect the lives of Americans by my adherence to the doctrine of “just war.” This doctrine, as articulated by Augustine, suggested that war must only be waged as a last resort— for a discernible moral and public good, with the right intentions, vetted through established legal authorities (a constitutionally required declaration of the Congress), and with a likely probability of success.

It has been and remains my firm belief that the current United Nations-mandated, no-win police action in Iraq fails to meet the high moral threshold required to wage just war. That is why I have offered moral and practical opposition to the invasion, occupation and social engineering police exercise now underway in Iraq. It is my belief, borne out by five years of abject failure and tens of thousands of lost lives, that the Iraq operation has been a dangerous diversion from the rightful and appropriate focus of our efforts to bring to justice to the jihadists that have attacked us and seek still to undermine our nation, our values, and our way of life.

I opposed giving the president power to wage unlimited and unchecked aggression, However, I did vote to support the use of force in Afghanistan. I also authored H.R. 3076, the September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001. A letter of marque and reprisal is a constitutional tool specifically designed to give the president the authority to respond with appropriate force to those non-state actors who wage aggression against the United States while limiting his authority to only those responsible for the atrocities of that day. Such a limited authorization is consistent with the doctrine of just war and the practical aim of keeping Americans safe while minimizing the costs in blood and treasure of waging such an operation.

On September 17, 2001, I stated on the house floor that “…striking out at six or eight or even ten different countries could well expand this war of which we wanted no part. Without defining the enemy there is no way to know our precise goal or to know when the war is over. Inadvertently more casual acceptance of civilian deaths as part of this war I’m certain will prolong the agony and increase the chances of even more American casualties. We must guard against this if at all possible.” I’m sorry to say that history has proven this to be true.

I am running for president to restore the rule of law and to stand up for our divinely inspired Constitution. I have never voted for legislation that is not specifically authorized by the Constitution. As president, I will never sign a piece of legislation, nor use the power of the executive, in a manner inconsistent with the limitations that the founders envisioned.

Many have given up on America as an exemplar for the world, as a model of freedom, self-government, and self-control. I have not. There is hope for America. I ask you to join me, and to be a part of it.

Sincerely,

Ron Paul

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New Preaching Blog I’ve Started

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2007 at 1:23 pm
Dear friends:
 
Many of you are readers of my main blog at https://bromattsblog.wordpress.com
For that, I thank you.  Just this past week, we reach 60,000 hits and are
reaching many for Christ. 
 
I do have a passion for Bible-centered, Christ-centered
preaching.  So I have started a preaching blog called “Expositionalogistix”
(Expositional Logistics) which seeks the recovery of the centrality of preaching
in Christian worship.  The address is at http://expositionalogistix.blogspot.com
(I may switch to WordPress soon, but I’ll let you know if and when).  I only
have three posts up so far, but bookmark this site and come back soon and
contribute if you like. 
 
May God bless you this Christmas season.
 
In Christ,
 
Matt Perry

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New Preaching Blog I’ve Started

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2007 at 1:23 pm
Dear friends:
 
Many of you are readers of my main blog at https://bromattsblog.wordpress.com
For that, I thank you.  Just this past week, we reach 60,000 hits and are
reaching many for Christ. 
 
I do have a passion for Bible-centered, Christ-centered
preaching.  So I have started a preaching blog called “Expositionalogistix”
(Expositional Logistics) which seeks the recovery of the centrality of preaching
in Christian worship.  The address is at http://expositionalogistix.blogspot.com
(I may switch to WordPress soon, but I’ll let you know if and when).  I only
have three posts up so far, but bookmark this site and come back soon and
contribute if you like. 
 
May God bless you this Christmas season.
 
In Christ,
 
Matt Perry

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What Would the Modern Preacher Have Done? (Paul Washer)

In Evangelism, Preaching on December 13, 2007 at 11:24 am

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What Is Your Heart Condition?

In Devotional, Sermons on December 10, 2007 at 1:30 pm

human_heart_graphic_03.jpg
Mark 4:1-20
Preached October 3, 2004
I love the Word of God! When I say “the Word of God,” I mean by that the Holy Scriptures. Some denominations such as Roman Catholicism say that the Word of God is the Scriptures plus their Sacred Traditions that they have acquired over the centuries since the time of the apostles. Those traditions, they say, have been just as revealed by the Spirit and are just as binding as Scripture. I do not believe it because Jesus gave the Apostles that special authority as eyewitnesses of His ministry to write down and preach His Word.

Some believe that they receive a ‘word from God’ through their own experiences, even if those experiences contradict what God has revealed in the Bible. If your notions that you believe are from God contradict what He has said in His Word, then those notions are not from God — for God is not one to contradict Himself.

So I just want to be clear by what I mean by the Word of God. And I will never forget the time I was very convicted by its power. During one of our Wednesday services in a church where I used to serve, I remember being asked to do the regular Scripture reading during one of the services. As I stood behind that pulpit to read, I was so overcome with the sense that I was reading the very words of God — the very Word that God inspired. That conviction has never left me. And God used that to grant me a love for the work and power of His Word.

This morning we will be looking at what as been called both the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Soils. Both apply. This parable deals with three angles: the seed (the Word of God), the sower (the one who spreads the word of God), and the soils (the ones who receive God’s Word).

God’s Word is powerful and can overcome any type of soil to where seed can grow. But what we are seeing here is snapshots of four different types of soils which represent four different types of spiritual heart conditions. As we look, I pray that you will allow the Holy Spirit to move and work and to ask yourself this one question: what is my spiritual heart condition?

Do you have a stony heart?

Jesus taught the crowd about the condition of the four soils in which the seed fell. He said, “And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path and the birds came and devoured it” (Mark 4:4). This is pictured as a path that was hardened by travel — hardened like the pavement on a sidewalk or the road on the Interstate.

Jesus went on to explain it to His disciples in Mark 4:15: “And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.”

The comings and goings of life have so calloused them that the seed of God’s Word does not penetrate. R. Kent Hughes puts it this way: “Life for them may be no more than the sports page and a beer, or a movie magazine and an hour at the beauty shop. There may be no gross sin, but there is no interest in God whatsoever” (105).

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something.

As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! He slammed on the brakes and drove the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown.

The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, “What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost me a lot of money. Why did you do it?”

The young boy was apologetic. “Please mister. . . . please, I’m sorry. I didn’t know what else to do. I threw the brick because no one else would stop” With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. “It’s my brother. He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.”

Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.”

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the lump in his throat. He lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out his handkerchief and wiped at the fresh scrapes and cuts.

Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward home.

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable but the driver never repaired the dented side door. He kept the dent to remind him of this message: Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention. God whispers to our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don’t have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. Listen to the whisper. . . or wait for the brick.

Others get hardened by their own ideas and philosophies and their own experiences of how things began, how things are, and how things will and should be. Some read the Scriptures, but then they look around them to ‘real life’ and say, “Well, my senses and experiences seems to speak something different than what the Word says. I can’t believe it — I’ll believe what I see!” The evolutionist who says, “I cannot believe in God — where else can I go but to evolution?” The media representative who hears our message about the one way of Jesus and calls us a bunch of right wing fundamentalist fanatics. The academic professor who calls Christians a bunch of superstitious idiots who believe what unsophisticated men centuries ago believe and that we have advanced beyond the Bible to things more learned.
What needs to happen is that hardened ground needs to be broken up. Hosea 10:12 says:

Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the Lord,
that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

And God may send adversity to do so. I remember watching the World Series in 1989 between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s. Joe Morgan was doing an interview, then everything started shaking and the television feed went out. When the feed returned, they showed how bridges were collapsing, fires broke out, and even the roads were splintered and cut into pieces.

Sometimes God will send an earthquake of adversity that will shake up that stony ground of your heart. Just like that pavement that no one thought would be broken up, so God may use those circumstances to break up your heart so the word of God may be planted there.

Do you have a shallow heart (v. 16-17)?

Jesus tells the people that “Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away” (Mark 4:5-6). Jesus explains this to His disciples in verses 16-17:

And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while. Then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

In most of Palestine, a very thin layer of soil covers limestone. As a result, not much vegetation can grow — and the land there stays quite barren. Often that is how many of our hearts are. We have a thin layer of soil for the seed of the Word to be planted, but just underneath that soil is hardness — it’s not a soil that runs deep. So the word cannot take hold in our hearts because it is not deep enough for the roots to dig in and give the plant strength!

But when the scorching heat of adversity comes, our supposed faith withers away. And adversity has claimed many a so-called Christian. A daughter complained to her father about how hard things were for her. “As soon as I solve one problem,” she said, “another one comes up. I’m tired of struggling.”

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen where he filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots, in the second, eggs, and in the last, ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
The daughter impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After a while, he went over and turned off the burners. He fished out the carrots and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl.

He poured the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her he asked, “Darling, what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied. He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled, as she tasted its rich flavor.

She asked, “Father, what are you trying to tell me?” He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity–boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg was fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. By being in the boiling water, they changed the water. He asked his daughter, “When adversity knocks on your door, which are you?”
Well, for some young supposed Christians, when adversity knocks on the door of their heart, they wither away and abandon whatever ‘faith’ they had. You see, adversity has a way of showing us where we truly are in Christ. If we are only willing to follow Christ when things are going smoothly, then we forget that our Adversary — Satan Himself — will throw those fiery darts at us and we will flame out. But if we are willing to follow Christ in spite of the adversity we will face, that is the type of faith Christ calls for. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 5:11-12:

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You may be that way and know others as well who struggle with this. Your Christian life begins with a flourish. You received the Good News immediately and with great gladness and joy. You may have even started sharing your faith and winning people to the Lord. You may even give an exciting, compelling testimony. But when persecution and tribulations hit because of the Gospel you crumble, wither, and fall away.

And when I say, “Fall away,” I am not referring to a loss of salvation. When we look with our own senses, it sure seems as if this person lost it. They seemed to be doing so well and being a witness for Jesus Christ. To us, it seems that they are legitimate citizens of heaven. But that’s when our experiences and our senses and feelings let us down in a grand way. We must go by the objective standard and authority of what God has spoken to us through His Word. And we must examine ourselves to see what the condition of our hearts are.

Do you have a separated heart?

Jesus gets to the third soil. This seed, He said, “fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. He explained that the thorns are “the cares of this world, the desire for riches and the desire for other things” which choked up the Word that grew, making it fruitless.

Literally the ‘distractions of this age.’ It means that you are so absorbed and consumed by the issues of this age that you have no time nor desire to consider eternal matters of the gospel. And it is clear from this upcoming generation that the ‘distractions of this age’ often affect how they operate in real life.

In the Western Recorder this past week, you may have read about a poll that was taken among teenagers saying that 63% of all teenagers were willing to “bend the rules” in order to get ahead in their careers. It seems as if these Christian teenagers had a faith that stayed to themselves, but when it came to living they took on the attributes and ways of everyone around them, even though they were contrary to what God would have them do.

While many do not seem to take issue with this, this puts how many Christians operate on display. They compartmentalize their lives by saying there is a sacred, Christian part of their lives, then there’s the secular, day-to-day, ‘real’ life that we have to deal with.
He also speaks of the deceitfulness of riches. We mentioned in August from 1 Timothy 6:9-10:

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. [10] For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

You may have known people who see their neighbors get a new and faster computer, so they have to get one even faster; or get a new car because their co-worker got one. Keeping up with the Jones’ is what it’s called. We see it in sports all the time on draft day. The third person drafted get a certain amount of money in his contract, so the one who was drafted second needed to get more money and incentives than #3. That’s why so many hold out because they want what they feel is coming to them.

A ‘spilling over’ heart

Jesus tells them in Mark 4:8 that some seeds fell into “Good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundredfold.” The explanation? Look at verse 20:

But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.

Here is the result of the heart with good soil. You hear the word, you accept the word, and that word bears fruit. When you hear the Word and accept it, then you will obey it. This reminds us of what Jesus told us last week about His true family. “Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35).

Paul in his letter to the Colossian church starts by saying:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:3-6).

If your heart is prepared and ready for the Word to be planted, the seeds will grow into abundant fruit that will amaze you. You will not believe how God will use you when your heart has submitted to His Word and will.

Conclusion

Jesus said in verse 9, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” It can be translated even more emphatically. “If you have ears, listen!” Listen to what? His Word! Listen to what this parable means! Listen and see what condition your heart is in.
See, heart disease is the no. 1 killer in America. But that’s a physical heart disease. Many of you in this place have a spiritual heart disease and the only cure is by the Great Physician coming in. And He won’t heal your old heart. No, this Physician knows how to give heart transplants. He will create in you a clean heart.

Do you have ears to hear? Then won’t you come and let him break up that hardened grown, that stony ground, that shallow ground, that thorny ground that is your heart so that he may give you a heart that will receive the goodness and power of His Word so that you may bear fruit for Him?
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Copyright © 2004 by Treasuring the Word Publications. All rights reserved. You have permission to reproduce up 1000 copies of this sermon. All we ask is that you give proper attribution to the author and the ministries he represents:
Rev. Matthew Perry, Pastor
Boone’s Creek Baptist Church
185 N. Cleveland Rd.
Lexington, KY 40509
http://www.boonescreekchurch.com
matt @ matt-perry.com . (859) 263-5466
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